UN body welcomes human rights progress in Maldives
In a boost to the Maldives government's efforts to protect and promote human rights, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has welcomed President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's efforts to bring the country in tune with international standards in this area.
"The Maldives president has received a letter from UNHCHR Louise Arbour, in which she welcomed recent positive developments in the area of human rights protection and stressed the importance of implementing commitments at the national level," a press release by the Maldives government said.
The letter was in response to a communication by Gayoom to Arbour in which he provided an overview of major developments in the Maldives during 2006. He also emphasised the government's commitment to oversee further progress in the promotion and protection of human rights in 2007.
Arbour welcomed the Maldives' ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
"The Maldives took a number of very important steps during 2006 to bring itself into line with international human rights standards," chief government spokesperson Mohamed Hussain Shareef said in a statement Tuesday.
"We are pleased that these efforts have been recognised but also agree with Ms. Arbour that the hard work has only just begun," he underlined.
The Maldives also acceded to the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR that permits individuals to petition the UN Human Rights Committee if they feel that they have not been able to obtain a domestic remedy for any violation of their rights.
The chief opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has accused the government of gross human rights violations and torture of political prisoners - a charge vehemently rebutted by the Gayoom regime.
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